Every Natwest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) debit card holder is set to have their Maestro, Solo or Cirrus plastic replaced by a Visa card.

This will mean they are better protected for goods bought on the card.

Anyone with an Ulster Bank card will also be sent a Visa card as a replacement. Maestro, Solo and Cirrus are all part of Mastercard.

When will Visa cards arrive?

  • New customers should receive their cards when they apply.
  • Everyone else will generally have to wait until their existing plastic expires, though anyone whose plastic expires shortly should soon have a Visa card.

Visa money back promise

The chief benefit of the move is that Visa cardholders receive more consumer protection than Mastercard holders.

Visa operates what it calls a 'Chargeback' scheme which means you can try to claim money back from your card provider if any goods you bought on the plastic do not arrive or are faulty (see the Visa Chargeback guide).

However, you must make your claim within 120 days of the problem occurring.

This protection is often most beneficial when a firm you've made a purchase from goes bust before any items arrive or before you've used the service paid for (see the Budget airline SkyEurope collapses MSE news story).

RBS says having a Visa means you are three times as likely to have it accepted than a Maestro card. This mainly applies abroad, though RBS cards are rarely the best to use overseas (see the Cheap Travel Money guide).

Credit card benefit

The Visa Chargeback scheme also applies to Visa credit cards. However, any credit card holder is normally protected for goods bought on their plastic worth over £100.

This is because Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act states that the card provider is jointly liable with the retailer if anything goes wrong (see the Section 75 guide).

This is enshrined in law whereas the Visa Chargeback promise is a scheme chosen by the plastic issuer to boost business.

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, says: "Increased protection is always welcome. Yet Visa Chargeback should only ever be seen as an emergency solution after the event.

"If you're planning to make a purchase for more than £100, especially where delivery or gratification isn't instant, paying on a credit card at getting the statutory section 75 protection is a far stronger. Though of course on a credit card always repay in full to avoid interest."

The down side of switching from Mastercard is that it frequently runs promotions and competitions.

Further reading/Key links

Get refunded: Section 75 and Visa Chargeback guides